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Last Updated:  Thursday, 23 January, 2003, 11:35 GMT

England damaged by fatigue
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport Online

England's performance in Sydney was nothing short of catastrophic.

It is one thing to be annihilated by the best team in world cricket. One could argue that it is almost to be expected these days.

Knight trudges off after a low score in Sydney
The gulf in class between the sides has suddenly widened considerably

But to slide to the second fastest 10-wicket defeat in the history of one-day international cricket is clearly quite another matter.

There have after all been 1,940 one-day matches since Doug Walters and Ian Chappell steered Australia to victory over England at the MCG 32 years ago.

And in that time only once has a side reached their target quicker while keeping all their wickets intact.

That happened when India played Kenya in Bloemfontein in October 2001.

And with all due respect to Kenya many people would not even reckon that the match counted as a one-day international.

On that occasion the African side were skittled for just 90 in a day-night match.

And the Indians, opening with Virender Sehwag and Deep Dasgupta, required just 11.3 overs to reach the target.

When Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden set off in pursuit off 118 to beat England at Sydney on Thursday it would be fairly obvious that mark would soon be under threat.

Ashley Giles
Ashley Giles has had his feet up for quite some time now

And if Hayden had managed to hit the third ball of Ronnie Irani's second over for four, it would have been matched.

As it was Hayden finished on 45 off 37 balls with Gilchrist registering a staggering 69 off 37 balls, so you could hardly expect faster scoring.

Sheer mental and physical fatigue must also have played a part in England's defeat.

Some of these players have clocked up so many air miles that it will probably be a while before they ever pay for a plane ticket again.

The likes of Hussain, Trescothick, Stewart and Caddick have crisscrossed this drought-ridden land on countless occasions.

They have flown in and out of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide like presidential candidates garnering last minute support.

In fact they could be forgiven for being a little envious of people like Ashley Giles and Andrew Flintoff, who have been out injured for so long.

And England fans will be desperate to see Gilo and Freddie in the royal blue strip for the World Cup.

It will mean there are at least two faces who don't look utterly exhausted in South Africa.

Other teams will go to the World Cup considerably fresher.

Pakistan and South Africa have had their feet up since the first week of January and West Indies and Bangladesh played their last competitive match before Christmas.

Zimbabwe played their last competitive match on 1 December so when they play England in the controversial 13 February fixture they will be considerably less jaded.

Just how it will all go down if England actually lose that match after all the politics is anyone's guess.

If they do, heads will finally have to roll, and England's stated aim to be the best Team in the world by 2007 will be a distant pipe dream.

Links to more England stories


BBC Five Live's Pat Murphy
"England were hammered"

England captain Nasser Hussain
"We were below par"

Australia's Brett Lee
"Andy Bichel has bowled well all summer"

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